May 26, 2021
Question 14: What challenges are raised by the dissemination and/or communication of knowledge?
Object 1: Japanese Poem “wara”
My first object is a poem written in Japanese called “Wara” which is translated as “straw”. This poem was written by Ishigaki Rin, a Japanese poet in 1952. This poem is about a person in the cafeteria listening to music and expressing how ‘friendly’ the music feels using exaggerated metaphors. This poem uses many literary devices which creates a problem when translating to English.
This poem is interesting for this exhibition, since the usage of literary devices which was meant to make the poem unique has made a language barrier. This poem raises a challenge for the non- Japanese speaking people to understand this poem fully since there are some proverbs/metaphors that only exist in Japanese. For example, the line “sadness that squeezes the chest” is a common proverb in Japanese, which means “it is too sad that you could even feel pain in the chest”. However, in English without
context, it sounds rather disturbing, when in Japanese, it sounds artistic. When the literary devices are taken away from the poem, it becomes a whole new work and it ends up just summarising the poem. Therefore, the language barrier is a challenge raised by the communication of knowledge.
Another way this poem suits well for this exhibition is that even if this author has a meaningful message she is trying to share, not everyone may interpret it the right way. This poem includes many indirect messages written using literary devices. For example, one of the lines is translated as “I can imagine the researcher finding out that letting the cow listen to the music improves the udder”. It sounds absurd, but it is indirectly trying to say that this music is really good, that they can imagine why cow’s milk would taste better after listening to music since it’s good enough to improve its mental well-being. Some people reading this poem may not understand why the author suddenly brought up researchers and cows and may interpret the meaning of this poem as something entirely different. Even if the reader can read the poem, this indirectly written message is a challenge raised by communication of knowledge.
Object 2: Text Conversation
My second object is a screenshot taken from a text conversation with my father who does not use much emojis, (or explanation/question mark) which makes the text look formal and strict. In this screenshot, I was asking my father if he enjoyed shopping with me, but he replied “yes” dryly and it made me wonder if he actually enjoyed it.
This is relevant to this exhibition, since with the lack of emojis, it creates a challenge to communicate to share knowledge (about how we feel). By not using emojis, the text could misconvey the person’s expression, and lead to misunderstandings. My father in this text replies with a period, which made it sound very formal and it looks like he replied without much effort, as if he does not care. Even if he did actually enjoy and
cared about the text conversation, I misunderstood and thought he was upset. This lack of emojis in the text is a challenge raised by the communication of knowledge.
Another way this relates to the exhibition is that the technology usage of generations creates a challenge in communication. For my generation, it is normal to text with emojis to express how we feel, but my father’s generation does not use emojis as much as we do. This may be because they are used to texting for work, which requires formality. It may also be because as the older generations, they may not care about new functions of technology as much as younger generations, including usage of emojis. For example in this conversation, he says “haha” without any emojis but in my generation, it is very common to put a laughing emoji next to it. My generation’s ‘normal’ way of texting and my father’s generation’s ‘normal’ way of texting is different, which is a challenge raised by communication.
Object 3: Instagram’s Comment Section about Black People’s Rights.
My third object is an instagram comment section for a post that stands up for black people’s rights. This post showed up on my recommended page, and these kinds (supporting black people’s rights) of posts and views are common in my instagram feed, because they are based on my previous browsing history.
This object is interesting for this exhibition, because there may be challenges in dissemination of knowledge on instagram, caused by the “echo chamber”. Echo chamber is when I would only receive perspectives that are similar to mine, making me
believe that my view is right/majority. These two commenters show anger towards prejudiced black people, and it makes me believe that this is what most people think, since I am only exposed to this side of perspective. However, in reality there may be more people who give racist comments than I think. The echo chamber is a challenge that blocks the dissemination of knowledge (about different views).
Another way this object is relevant to the exhibition is because there is a chance for these comments to be fake or overexaggerated information in order to raise awareness and get attention. This is because anyone can comment and share knowledge on instagram, and they are all free to share their thoughts, just like how the second commenter did. He mentions how “Boris Johnson is pushing to become a dictator” but this is not officially announced, and this is only commenter 2’s theory. People who read this comment may disseminate to more people, and this theory might become so popular that people would think it is an official information. Trusting fake information could lead to misunderstandings and dissemination of false knowledge, creating a challenge caused by the dissemination of knowledge.
Object 1- Ishigaki, R., 1998. Ishigaki Rin shishū. Tōkyō: Kadokawa Haruki Jimusho.